An intriguing crime drama by brothers Jack and Harry Williams(The Missing) that kept me interested throughout. The finest aspect of it was the dark and haunting tone that pervaded every scene. It was this ever-present haunting quality that gave the show an air of originality, bearing mind this is a much overcrowded TV genre. It had a distinctive feel to it as well as having many impressive plot twists and turns. It was not faultless television but at the same time definitely a programme worthy of critical praise!
Filmed in the city of Edinburgh and the wonderfully picturesque Scottish Borders, it focused on two close families(the Douglas and the Elliot’s) who lived in the small Scottish Highland village of Braeston. The story began with the wedding of Adam Elliot(Jeremy Neumark Jones) to Grace Douglas(Kate Bracken). Soon afterwards they were murdered and it appeared to look like by an unknown drug addict, who then made his hasty way over to the Douglas and Elliot’s family residences.
At times perhaps this opening episode was a tad too chaotic and overly dramatic. Nevertheless, in the main it was gripping stuff that made me want to watch more. It ended with the suspected murderer(now known as petty criminal Lee Walsh, played by Owen Whitelaw), crashing his car just as he had just reached Braeston and then later being murdered by an unknown member of one of the families.
There were three main storylines throughout the four episodes. Firstly, there was who killed Lee Walsh? Alongside this was the ultimate question of why were Adam and Grace killed and by whom? Both of these storylines conjured up some great red herrings for us along the way before we eventually found out what had really happened. The last main narrative strand was that of bent copper Juliet(Laura Fraser), supplying drugs to a local dealer in order to earn extra money to help her pay for her daughter’s potentially life saving operation out in America.
What was impressive about the writing of this crime-drama was how amidst the main storylines, there were other smaller ones going on at the same time that eventually all linked back to the climax of main ones at the end. For example, Peter Elliot(Adam’s Dad played Adrian Edmonson) leaving the family home all those years ago made more sense by the end. Moira Doulgas(Julie Graham) having an affair with their farmhand Alistair(Gary Lewis), had massive amounts of significance to the climax of the piece . Creepy Jamie’s(Cristian Ortega) crush on Clare(Joanna Vanderham) had massive ramifications and so did Bill Douglas(John Lynch)having tests for Parkinson’s disease. Every narrative strand had a purpose in a cleverly written plot full of twists.
The only slight negative thing I have to say about the narrative is that I did not buy the conclusion of the storyline concerning bent copper Juliet. Yes, it was great that she waltzed off into the sunset(America) with her ill daughter to hopefully save her life, but I found it a bit hard to believe. It was too unrealistic to ask us to believe that she got away with her crime. Furthermore, did her drug dealer associate Jay(Chris Fulton) actually blab to the police about her or not because I’m still not sure about this even now???
Linked to the last point, the only cast member and character that I had an issue with was Juliet’s junior detective colleague Andrew, played by Steve Evets. I say junior but in actual fact he was a lot older than her and the character was a bored cop just going through the motions. In the scene where Juliet had that happy ending Andrew said to her,
“when I started in this job I had so much fire in me you know? I thought putting away bad people changed things but over time my way of thinking, it goes you know”?
I thought in this final scene especially Steve badly overacted it. I also thought his dialogue was too cliched, here and throughout most of the drama. This intentionally cynical copper increasingly became an irritant for me. Fine, I got the cynical copper bit but he seemed to be to policing to what Gordon Ramsay is to The Non Swearing Society, i.e completely useless! It seemed too much of a stretch for me to ever imagine that this character was once supposedly a hardworking diligent policeman. I definitely would have cast somebody else in the role.
The rest of cast were great though. Two exceptional performances came from Joanna Vanderham who played Clare, as well as Laura Fraser who played Juliet. I loved the scenes that Clare had with her elderly ill patient Meredith(Anne Kidd). There was a real touching quality to their exchanges. Laura showed us all just what a fine all-round actress she is in this role, i.e playing a flawed detective in Juliet.
Back to the programme retaining a haunting feeling throughout, I thought the mise-en-scene, theme music and background music in it were all tremendous. The stunning sweeping helicopter shots of the Scottish countryside in the last episode especially gave the show an epic quality.
An impressive crime-drama that had a haunting originality about it that made it stand out within this overly saturated TV genre . It ticked a lot of boxes and also thankfully had a much better ending than the first series of The Missing did! 4/5!